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The Senate Advisory Committee on University Affairs met Monday to discuss students’ resolutions to combat climate change, as well as converse with guest speakers about initiatives the University of Michigan administration is employing to improve student and faculty life on campus.
The meeting began with a discussion of the recent Central Student Government resolution to encourage the University to achieve carbon neutrality by 2035. CSG recently asked SACUA to join this effort to persuade the University to establish clear benchmarks and goals on its commitment to carbon neutrality.
SACUA debated the accuracy of statistics cited in the CSG proposal, mentioning the necessity to ensure the proposal used reliable facts. After deliberation, the assembly agreed to support the goals of the proposal, but did not endorse it until it has been checked for correctness.
Senate Assembly Chair Neil Marsh expressed his belief that the resolution is something more abstract, that supporting CSG would not take away from the faculty assembly.
“I see this (resolution) as being fairly non-controversial and its heart is in the right place,” he said. “I don’t see any particular downside to us saying we support (their) resolution once it’s been passed.”
Next, the assembly welcomed Jerry May, University vice president for development. One of the largest projects for the Office of Development, the Victors for Michigan campaign, which began in 2011 and is coming to its close, has raised over $5 billion and is the most successful fundraising campaign in University history. May, who announced his upcoming retirement last spring, explained his role of overseeing all fundraising activities and answered the questions of assembly members.
Members of the assembly mentioned many University programs receive consistent funding, like the Ross School of Business, while other areas needing improvement do not recieve as many donations. Though donors cannot be told where to give their money, May said, many decide to donate to multiple areas instead of just one.
“I’m a huge believer in multiple relationships in multiple areas, and not having one development officer … that hoards your relationship with a donor,” May said. “What I find is the more (an individual) is exposed to the breadth of the university, the more likely they are to give to more than just their one degree.”
University Provost Martin Philbert then spoke to the assembly, highlighting the recent introduction of parental leave benefits for University faculty and staff. Philbert discussed how it’s a joint responsibility to child rear, and this benefit will make the University a more attractive place to work.
“In a time where there are lots of issues that divide us, this is one of those that unites us,” Philbert said. “We will support the members of our community who need time to bond with their children.”
The meeting concluded with questions from members of the assembly to Philbert, primarily regarding the Office of Institutional Equity amid criticism of the office’s sexual misconduct investigations, especially within the School of Music, Theater & Dance. OIE’s annual report released earlier this year found more reports were filed with the office, though the number of investigations dropped. Philbert voiced support for the policy and process as a whole.
“I’ve heard concerns about the length of time it takes to complete some OIE investigations,” Philbert said. “We’re always working to ensure that those investigations are fair, thorough and timely.”
The student sexual misconduct policy dictates OIE should strive to complete investgations within 60 days of their filing —anecdotal evidence reported by The Daily found, however, students were waiting from five to six months at times for responses to their reports. Philbert said some factors delay the completion of certain investigations, and opened the conversation to include suggestions from the assembly to make this process more efficient and effective. Philbert concluded the meeting by explaining the implementation of mandatory online sexual misconduct training for faculty members in the years going forward.